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Finnish President Sauli Niinistö Pays Historic Visit to Washington State

Washington State Governor’s Office

Washington – His Excellency Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland, visited the Washington State Capitol on Monday, March 6, 2023. His address to the Legislature was the first by a foreign head of state in Washington state history.

After the address, Niinistö and Gov. Jay Inslee and their delegations met in the governor’s office for a bilateral meeting. The governor and the president agreed to deepen the cooperation in the areas of telecommunications, climate change, and port modernization. Partnership between Finland and the state of Washington will continue, building on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2021.

The flags of the United States, Finland, and Washington state fly in front of the Washington State Capitol dome.
The American, Finnish, and Washington state flags soar in front of the dome of the Washington state capitol.
A formally-dressed group of dignitaries poses for a picture in an ornate sunlit office.
Sen. Marko Liias, President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, First Spouse Trudi Inslee, Gov. Jay Inslee, Finnish Ambassador Mikko Hautala, and Consul General Okko-Pekka Salmimies hold for a photo in the governor’s office.

In his address to the legislature, Niinistö had said, “In the global fight against climate change, Finland and Washington are forerunners. Finland’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2035. Reaching that goal requires investments, political leadership, determination, and innovation. But the way I see it, sustainability should not be seen as a sacrifice but as an opportunity.”

The governor began the bilateral meeting by thanking the president for visiting, and for crediting Finland and Washington state as “forerunners” in the world effort to fight climate change.

Both Finland and Washington state have established aggressive goals to electrify, reduce emissions, and reduce waste. Inslee shared that Washington state’s leading cap-and-invest system recently held its first emissions allowance auction.

Inslee detailed the state’s bid to become a “Hydrogen Hub” and shared recent hydrogen-powered developments within the state, including the successful test flight of a hydrogen-electric aircraft in Moses Lake. Inslee also stressed the state’s commitment to green shipping, and progress to require efficient electric heating in new construction.

Niinistö and members of his delegation reviewed technological and economic developments of consequence to Washington state. Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark mentioned that Nokia is the only non-Chinese technology vendor in the world that can furnish complete componentry for large-scale 5G and fixed broadband networks, and expressed the importance of networks for national security.

Approximately half of T-Mobile’s network is running on Nokia technology.

Niinistö emphasized the importance of continued U.S. support for Ukraine. Inslee shared Washington state’s contributions in support of Ukraine.

“We have been waiting 134 years for a foreign leader to address the state Legislature, and now it is a tremendous honor that President Niinistö of Finland,” said Inslee. “It was a great honor that he described us as a forerunner, along with the forerunner nation of Finland.”